Parliamentarians discuss how EU can effectively manage migration, asylum

"Do not criminalise those saving lives at sea", urged EP President Sassoli

A high-level interparliamentary conference on migration and asylum, organised by the European Parliament and the German Bundestag, in cooperation with the Portuguese and Slovene parliaments, and the European Commission, brought together in Brussels and virtually on Thursday lawmakers from across Europe and migration experts to explore new ideas for a sustainable EU migration and asylum system.

Recalling that the conference is taking place just a few days after another of the far too frequent tragedies in the Mediterranean between Libya and Italy, the European Parliament President, David Sassoli said: “The NGO Open Arms showed us images of an exhausted mother in a rubber dinghy, crying and begging rescuers to look for her lost child at sea”. That baby was six months old, his name was Joseph, he came from Guinea and died shortly after being taken aboard the Open Arms ship, waiting for help that unfortunately arrived too late, Sassoli stressed, adding that behind the numbers “we rightly talk about in the analysis of migration flows there are people and there are stories”.

He also focused on the need of a common system of shared rules for rescue at sea and disembarking people. We must not criminalise those who are saving lives because they fulfill not only an obligation enshrined in the international law of the sea, but also a moral obligation, he asserted.

Migration has always been a fact for Europe – and it always will be, said in her keynote speech EC President Ursula von der Leyen noting that it “enriches our societies, it brings new talent to our countries, when well managed”. She also touch upon the challenges European Union still faces saying that the current system no longer works. Our New Pact on Migration and Asylum offers a fresh start, von der Leyen underscored She highlighted the importance for the EU to build a system that manages migration in the long term and which is fully grounded in European values, set out in the new Pact on Migration and Asylum the Commission put forward in September this year.

The EC President also called on all parties involved - national parliaments, the European Parliament and national governments - to work together to acknowledge and overcome existing differences.

At the conference took part as well President of the German Bundestag, Wolfgang Schäuble, President of the Portuguese Parliament, Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, and President of the Slovenian National Assembly, Igor Zorčič, representing the Parliaments of the current and upcoming presidencies of the Council of the EU.


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